Following the success of the City of Sequim’s first drone show at March’s Sunshine Festival, City Councilors are considering bringing a similar show to town to celebrate America’s independence next year.
Councilor Dennis Smith suggested at a May 11 council meeting that city staff look into hosting a drone show on the Fourth of July in 2021 because he was impressed with March’s show.
Barbara Hanna, Sequim’s communications and marketing director, reported at the May 25 meeting that a production by Firefly Drone Shows of Waterford, Mich., is available for the date at a cost of $46,410 — including a 15 percent discount as the company looks to recoup events during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With 100 illuminated drones likely near Carrie Blake Community Park, the show would start at about at around 9:45 p.m. and last about 15 minutes.
Hanna said the city paid $32,800 plus hotel rooms for the crew in March because it’s their offseason and the staff were looking to “break into” the Northwest market.
City councilors generally favored the idea and asked if the city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC), a five-person committee of hotels, bed and breakfasts and tourism officials, would consider making a recommendation to fund it with its available monies hotel/motel taxes.
Hanna said the group meets on June 8 and she would propose it to them and bring it back to the city council’s meeting on June 22.
Councilor Brandon Janisse, who sits on the committee, said he’s for the idea.
“I think it’s a great alternative (to fireworks),” he said. “We had a wonderful time watching (the drones).”
Hanna said one reason committee members could possibly vote down a recommendation could be because they feel it’s not a good use of lodging tax dollars because Sequim has a lot of visitors at that time already.
If committee members did approve the recommendation, the drone show would fall under the “special event” section of the committee’s provisions.
This summer will be the third consecutive year without consumer fireworks allowed in city limits on July 4.
Residents voted in favor to ban the discharge of fireworks in the city in a November 2016 advisory vote with 65.6 percent in favor. City councilors passed the ban soon after the vote.
A city-sponsored fireworks display is allowed by code, but city councilors have taken funding away from the event in recent years due to costs.
The city continues to allow up to four fireworks booths, typically nonprofits, to sell Washington state-approved fireworks in city limits from June 28-July 5; there was only one booth in 2019.
Residents in unincorporated Clallam County are allowed to use legal consumer fireworks noon-11 p.m. Friday, June 28, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. June 29-July 3, 9 a.m.-midnight July 4 and 9 a.m.-11 p.m. July 5.
The opportunity to seek sponsorships exists, Hanna said, but she’s unsure what level of support would be available.
“I don’t know if this is a good time to ask for money,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell asked about a different holiday like Labor Day, to which Hanna replied the city could opt to choose anytime but they must decide the direction for the next Sunshine Festival.
She said the city has until Aug. 1 to make a decision on the July 4, 2021, date.
City Councilor Troy Tenneson and Mayor William Armacost said they felt it was important to celebrate the Fourth of July.
“We made the choice not to have fireworks on the Fourth of July, which is an incredibly important day and the fact is we have an outstanding alternative with drones,” Armacost said.
He said comparing fireworks with the drone show is like apples and oranges, and that a similarly-sized fireworks show would cost about $40,000.
“During the Sunshine Festival, it was overwhelming how cool it was what they could do,” Armacost said.
For more information about the City of Sequim, visit www.sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4139.